Nicaraguan coffee growers prepare for the next harvest with the challenge of preventing COVID-19 from wreaking havoc among workers and reducing production, said the president of the National Alliance of Nicaraguan Coffee Growers (ANCN), Aura Lila Sevilla Kuan .
For this purpose, with different actors, they work on a prevention protocol for the entire coffee chain that will focus on the key points identified and following the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO), explained Sevilla Kuan, also coordinator of the Nicaraguan Sustainable Coffee Platform (Nicafes).
The protocol aims to help prevent contagion throughout the coffee chain, a sector that generates up to 300,000 jobs per harvest, in a country of 6.4 million inhabitants, he said.
Due to the lack of official information, it is not clear which are the areas in the field where the main outbreaks of COVID-19 are found in this time of pre-cut or silent season, which is when the sector prepares to the harvest stage that runs from October to May, he warned.
The Nicaraguan Ministry of Health has reported 2,519 COVID-19 infections, and 83 deaths, without specifying geographic areas, ethnicity, gender, or ages.
KNOWN FOCUSES AND CONTAGIOUS AREAS
For coffee growers, said the leader, it is relevant to have this information for the mobilization of producers and collaborators in the harvest stage.
Lacking this segmented information, Sevilla Kuan explained, they will help the independent Citizen Observatory COVID-19, a network of doctors and volunteers from all over Nicaragua, which accounts for 6,775 suspected cases, with 1,878 deaths, including 1,749 who are suspected of coronavirus and 129 due to pneumonia, which, unlike the Ministry of Health, does detail its information by department.
“From what can be seen to date where one would have to work with greater caution are the production units and the dry benefits given the number of collaborators to be hired to carry out these tasks,” said the union leader.
Also the collection centers in the communities where the small producers who come to sell or leave their coffee come together, and in the time of cut it will be in the mornings and afternoons when the pickers move from their houses to the farms and vice versa , which is when the largest number of crowds occur.
“We want this protocol to be practical so that it helps the weakest links to prepare to carry out the work with all the measures that allow the spread of COVID-19 to the families of producers, collaborators and communities,” he stressed.
WITH GOOD EXPECTATIONS
Despite the coronavirus pandemic and the socio-political crisis that Nicaragua has been experiencing since April 2018, that sector has very good expectations and they expect the price of the quintal to exceed $ 100.
To achieve their objectives, according to Sevilla Kuan, in addition to implementing the protocol for preventing the virus, they will require more financing for the almost 45,000 producers who are dedicated to cultivating the 2.5 million quintals produced by harvest.
Coffee is, along with bovine meat and raw gold, the main export products of Nicaragua.
The main markets for Nicaraguan coffee are the United States, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Italy, Sweden, Spain, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Taiwan and Costa Rica, according to official data.
Nicaragua, the second most impoverished country in America, is mainly supported by agriculture, which represents between 18% and 20% of Nicaragua’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)